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Beijing police detain 60 for scalping Olympic tickets
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Beijing police have detained 60 suspects for scalping Olympic Games tickets in the past two months, a police spokesman said on Thursday.

The suspects, apprehended since May 5 when the third phase of domestic ticket sales started, were accused of reselling the tickets at inflated prices of up to 100 times the face value, a Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau spokesman said.

In one case, police detained a suspect surnamed Zhao in Xuanwu District who attempted to scalp four tickets to the China-U.S. men's basketball preliminary match. Each cost 50 yuan (7.35 U.S. dollars), but he planned to resell them at 5,000 yuan each.

The spokesman said local police would launch a crackdown on the illegal practice around box offices and Olympic venues as well as on the Internet.

As the Olympics neared, some Chinese had become frantic about tickets, particularly for the opening ceremony on Aug. 8. Police warned the public not to buy tickets from scalpers because they might be fake or at offered at exaggerated prices.

They warned that anyone found scalping tickets would face penalties, which in some cases could be 10 to 15 days in detention.

Those who wished to transfer tickets were required to produce identity cards and do the transactions at designated branches of the Bank of China. Each ticket was transferable only once.

The Games' organizing committee has stated that "resale of Olympic tickets for profit is illegal" and vowed to "support the authorities to crack down on suspected illegal transactions."

A total of 1.38 million tickets were put on sale for 16 sports during the third phase that closed on June 9, including athletics, boxing, basketball and football. Buyers are allowed to purchase a maximum of six tickets -- three each for two sessions, but they could buy six more once payment was made.

The fourth phase of Olympic ticket sales to the domestic public will begin on Friday morning with the remaining 820,000 tickets to be sold.

Zhu Yan, the Olympics ticketing center head, said only tickets for competitions taking place locally would be available for purchase. That means Beijing citizens can only buy 250,000 tickets for competitions in the capital area.

Venues in the co-host cities -- Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang and Qinhuangdao -- would only sell tickets for football matches in the respective cities, Zhu said.

Unlike the first three phases, the fourth and also the final phase was open to individuals rather than groups, Zhu said.

"To give more people a chance, each person is allowed to buy at most two tickets for one session at once."

As a result, thousands in Beijing had been lining up at ticket booths since Wednesday noon.

(Xinhua News Agency July 25, 2008)

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